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License plate reader expansion on track, despite some council concerns

Josh James

Lexington leaders weighed the expansion of the city's license plate reader pilot program on Tuesday. The Urban County Council voted against a measure that would have pumped the brakes on the process.

While the city has yet to pilot the plate readers for a full year, Lexington Police say they have already proven their effectiveness — helping police track down 95 stolen vehicles and 11 missing persons with the 25 cameras currently in place.

But some city leaders had reservations about moving forward with the installation of another 75 without completing the full trial period.

"I'm hesitant to move this forward until we have actually completed the pilot program that we said we would for the time that we said we would, so we have the full data set."
Council member Liz Sheehan

Sheehan also wanted to see the policy surrounding the cameras undergo a review by the city's Racial Justice and Equality Commission.

One early concern about the program was the fact that the locations of the cameras were not released. Police Chief Lawrence Weathers said, along with an expansion, he foresees no issue making the locations public.

"We've seen that they've been successful for us, and the 75 — I don't see it as a problem once we get those installed people know they are," he said. "As a matter of fact, I think we'll put that on our webpage, where they are, and even if we change it, we'll update that."

A motion to delay the approval process until February failed 10-4.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.